The Happy Skeptic is skeptical of many things (but tries not to be cynical, which is different and far less contructive). One such thing — blogs in general.
Obviously, I see some value in blogs. But I’m a little wary of the orthodoxy of many blog evangelists. In English: Life ain’t always like these blog folks think.
So here are a few reminders for those who blog. Most should be common sense, but a few might be heresy to the blogosphere’s big names:
1. Most Americans distrust both major parties.
2. People tend to get a little annoyed when you slap labels on their entire way of thinking. The reason: People are capable of independent thoughts.
3. Most people don’t have 4-5 hours a day to blog or to read blogs. Don’t assume someone’s ignorant just because they didn’t see one of the 100 or so posts at Instapundit yesterday. They may have families, dogs, hobbies or just the occasional urge to go outside.
4. A medium dominated by people with lots of free time and a touch of anger is not necessarily more democratic than a medium dominated by modestly paid professionals.
5. Journalists are people, too. Really, I know. I’m a journalist myself, and my doctor recommends the same medicine for me as she does for her other patients.
6. To spin doctors and pundits, the game between the two parties is more important than anyone’s ideology. That’s why the fact that James Carville and Mary Matalin are married is no more surprising than the sight of longtime Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens in a Yankees uniform. Only suckers let themselves be defined by a strict “left” or “right” ideology. We just happen to have a lot of suckers in the blogosphere (and, thanks to partisan redistricting and a bit of demagogy, we also have them in Congress).
7. Reporting takes work. Editing takes work. Thoughtful analysis takes work. Punditry does not. Even if you can write better political commentary than the columnist at your least favorite newspaper (which would mean you’re putting some effort into it), you’ve only proven yourself capable of replacing one out of a couple hundred staffers (couple thousand for the big ones) at that paper. Even if your blog is better than the a newspaper’s op-ed page, you’re “replacing” two pages in the paper. The rest is a little more difficult.
8. Blogs are not the cure for being disenfranchised. I’ve been doing this a while now (some of the work I did as far back as 1997 would meet any conventional definition of “blog”), and I’m more disenfranchised today than ever. If you think the cure is “spend more time blogging,” see No. 3.
9. Most problems with the media stem from the fact that they work too fast and are too caught up in the process of what they do (landing that interview, fixing that computer systems, surviving that Dilbert meeting) to think about the ramifications of the content. That’s why it’s helpful to point out the mistakes, but it’s not helpful to assume a motive behind the mistakes.
10. There’s more to life than politics. There’s more to politics than the White House and Congress.
11. Schadenfreude is a poor hobby that was once reserved for cranky old curmudgeons. Or sportswriters.
12. If you’re not David Letterman, a top-10 list is simply derivative.